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14.08.2005 Regional News

200 farmers attend sunflower workshop


Dormaa-Ahenkro (B/A), Aug. 14, GNA - A one-day workshop on sunflower production has been held for 200 farmers including 20 women at Dormaa-Ahenkro in the Brong-Ahafo Region.

The workshop was jointly organised by the Dormaa District office of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and Tragrimacs, an Accra-based NGO, which offers marketing and consultancy services on sunflower production.

Opening the workshop, the Dormaa District MOFA Director Dr A.A. Kontor noted that the introduction of Sunflower production into the Dormaa District offers numerous advantages, among them was the sunflower oil, employment and the use of sunflower chaff as a vital component of poultry feed for the many poultry farms in the district. Dr Kontor said the production of sunflower would also boost the local industry by reducing government's annual sunflower oil importation cost, of over 18 billion cedis for the production of canned fish in the country.

He announced that a tonne of sunflower currently sells at 293 dollars, while a litre of its oil attracts over 30,000 cedis in Ghana. Dr Kontor assured the farmers that unlike other crops, which for unfavourable reasons have failed to yield expected aspirations, his outfit is committed to seeing the production of sunflower reach greater heights in the district.

He therefore appealed to farmers in the district to embrace the crop with seriousness as the MOFA has the capacity to hedge them against all basic problems they were likely to encounter.

The District Co-operative officer Mr Victor Owusu advised all prospective sunflower farmers to form co-operatives to enable them access financial and consultancy services from the Government and NGOs. He announced that the Benekrom, Sromani and Aboabo No. 4 communities already have depot for the purchase of the produce.

A Crop Agronomist and Chief Executive Officer of TRAGRIMACS Mr Issah Sulemana in a short history of his NGO revealed that studies in South Africa, which produces most of Africa's sunflower showed that the plant has the potential to cure heart and blood-related diseases. He said in exception of waterlogged land, the crop flourishes well on all other land, barring excessive drought and pest infestation.

During an open forum, participants were unanimous in their appeal to the NGO and MOFA to put in place pragmatic mechanism that would sustain the production process from cultivation to marketing of the produce.